Marriage Equality and LGBT Civil Rights in the United States, Part 1

Posted By Mark Baer || 3-Jul-2015

On February 14, 2014, the New York Times published an article by Eli J. Finkel titled "The All-or-Nothing Marriage." It is an article about how marriage has evolved over time in the United States. In that article he references a new theory of marriage that he developed with the psychologists Chin Ming Hui, Kathleen L. Carswell and Grace M. Larson, which was to be published later that year. That article is titled "The Suffocation of Marriage: Climbing Mount Maslow without Enough Oxygen." I actually published an article on in the Huffington Post on June 19, 2014 titled "The Impact of Relationship Apps On Family Dynamics," that was based in part on that research.

While the "The Suffocation of Marriage" refers to changes as changing "expectations," they are changes nonetheless. As the Supreme Court of the United States stated in its marriage equality decision, the definition of marriage has been changing throughout history. To state otherwise is either pure ignorance or an outright lie.

When I pointed this out in a Discussion on LinkedIn, one of the members of the group stated the following:

"Mark, yes it is sad but true, especially the SCOTUS decision to re define marriage in the name of equality. This is he newest 'progression' in the inevitable changes taking place as society becomes increasingly progressive and less reserved, and it is effecting the marriage front as well. Some changes are good and I am all for improvements, however, I cannot say I agree that last weeks manipulation of the laws of the land in effect for thousands of years is 'progress.'"

I responded as follows:

"It is your opinion that the changes that have occurred with regard to the definition of marriage over time are 'sad.' If you are married, I suspect; however, that if your wife knew what her life would have been based upon unchanged 'traditional' marriage, she would be a very unhappy woman in today's society - as I believe true of pretty much all women in the Western world.

The following article was provided to me by woman psychologist who is married to a man and they have a couple of children together: 'Escape from Duggarville: How playing the good Christian housewife almost killed me.' That article describes how a wife living in a relatively unchanged 'traditional' marriage felt and how it ended up that she was in an abusive marriage and didn't even realize it because she was brought up believing such treatment was 'normal.' I would only hope that women would not want to be in such marriages and I would like to hope that men wouldn't either.

The reason for my not describing her as straight or heterosexual is because in all candor, I can't speak as to another person's sexual orientation. I can't speak as to their deepest thoughts and desires, and what they may do 'behind closed doors.'

In any event, that psychologist is Dr. Ellen Miller Kwon, who also happens to be President of the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association, of which I am a member and newsletter columnist. Dr. Kwon is Christian and received her psychology degree at Fuller Seminary.

Allow me to share with you how Dr. Kwon describes her services:

'If you are a Christian wanting more integrity and satisfaction in your relationships, sexuality, and inner life, I would be honored to help you achieve this. Often conflicts in our identity produce anxiety, addiction, depression, and even panic. I also help couples build strong bonds and repair broken ones. Psychotherapy can help you in significant ways- through examining your motivation and actions, learning new skills for communicating and listening, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, finding clarity about issues you feel conflicted about, making sense of trauma and difficult experiences, and thinking through practical options.

Faith impacts all areas of life: teaching healthy relating to self, others, and God. But with such high standards many Christians learn to hide parts of themselves that are 'unacceptable.' Psychotherapy can help you see those buried, avoided, or numbed parts so you can move forward in freedom and peace.'

As far as the SCOTUS' recent marriage equality decision is concerned, it is arrogant for anyone to give the Court credit or responsibility for redefining marriage. While The Freedom to Marry Internationally site is not up to date, it shows that the definition of marriage in that regard was first changed in the Netherlands on April 1, 2001 and the many countries that followed suit prior to the United States. I know it's difficult for some to believe, but the world does not revolve around the United States of America and the United States of America does not dictate how things are defined.

So, you and others may believe whatever you want to believe because the United States is a free country. However, your belief that the United States Supreme Court decision or any other Court in the U.S. redefined marriage is patently false.

Inclusiveness, rather than shaming and judging others is the only way to have a more harmonious society. It is tragic that people involved in the mental health field prefer a more 'reserved' society that is less inclusive, and more shaming and judgmental. I might suggest that you take a moment to look around and see how that is working.

As an aside, gay and lesbian couples legally married in the United States prior to what you refer to as 'last week's manipulation of the laws of the land in effect for thousands of years' AND their marriages were federally recognized. Five years ago, the five Conservative members of the SCOTUS ruled that corporations were persons under the Constitution and were therefore entitled to be treated as such. Five years later, on June 26, 2015, one Conservative member of the SCOTUS and the remaining Justices held that gays and lesbians are persons under the Constitution and therefore entitled to be treated as such.

The following is from our Declaration of Independence: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' I am not going to restate the findings by the SCOTUS in reaching the decision they did on June 26, 2015 and will instead share the article titled 'Gay marriage is a constitutional right, supreme court rules,' that was published in the ABA Journal on June 26, 2015.

The reason I shared the language from the Declaration of Independence (and the Constitutional language can be found in the article published in the ABA Journal) is because it is about time that gay and lesbian citizens of the United States of America are finally Constitutionally recognized as an actual persons by the United States Supreme Court - five years after corporations were granted that status.

Thank you for judging and shaming all of those persons.

As a lawyer, I would like to make one final point.

Every exercise of power contains an element of contempt. Rights are limitations on the exercise of that power.

I know that Christians would like to believe that the United States is a Christian nation, BUT that is yet another false belief or wishful thinking on their part. That being said, Christians make up a large majority of this country. As such, Christians hold and yield the power that comes from being a majority of the population in the United States. Thus, the rights granted to the gay and lesbian community by the SCOTUS on June 26th was no more than a limitation on the power held by the Christian majority and which they wielded with great contempt."

On April 10, 2015, I was approached by Southern California Mediation Association Board Member and Chair of the 27th Annual SCMA Conference, entitled 'Conflict Revolution: Mediators as Agents of Social Change', will take place on Friday, November 6, 2015 – Saturday, November 7, 2015 at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, CA, encouraging me to submit a proposal to present. He reached out to me "to formulate a panel around LGBT conflicts arising in our communities, and how to use ADR to address them."

On June 29, 2015, I submitted a proposal for a presentation titled 'Equal rights for the LGBT community: The Last Frontier of the Civil Rights Movement.'

The list of proposed panel members are as follows:

Mark B. Baer, Esq., Family Law Attorney/Mediator, Mark B. Baer, Inc., APLC and President, Family Dynamics Assistance Center, LLC. Mark Baer has become rather outspoken on a great many social issues and has used his blog on the Huffington Post and his skills with the social media in an effort to raise public awareness, educate people, and advocate for change. He has published a number of articles and shares articles written by others on LGBT issues.

Leonard S. Levy, Esq., Mediator, ADR Services, Inc.; CEO, Family Dynamics Assistance Center, LLC, Former SCMA Board Member. Leonard Levy had to deal with his and his wife's own preconceived notions, after his son, Joseph came out to him. In order to work through those issues, Joseph suggested that the entire family attend PFLAG meetings. PFLAG stands for Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians. Among other things, 'PFLAG supports people who are LGBTQ, their families, friends and allies both locally and nationally, providing PFLAG chapter support group meetings and resources.' Not only did PFLAG help the entire family work through their issues, but Len and his wife also volunteered to assist other families dealing with similar problems.

Dave Fleischer, Director of the Leadership LAB of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Dave Fleischer directs the Leadership LAB at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. The LAB—the acronym stands for learn act build—helps emerging leaders develop the skills they need to recruit and motivate a large team of volunteers and to create, launch and evaluate experiments to change voters' minds and to reduce prejudice.

The workshop description is as follows:

"Learn what you can do to be an agent for social change in what has been referred to as 'the last civil rights movement.'

Many people consider LGBT rights 'the last civil rights movement' and marriage equality is only the beginning. Only 19 states prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Ten states provide those protections, but only for public employees. Three states only provide protections based upon sexual orientation. Protections against discrimination in housing and public accommodations are even worse. It should also be noted that there the same issues exist under federal law and Congress has refused to pass laws enacting such protections.

The wedding gift that gay and lesbian newlyweds may receive from their employers in such jurisdictions is a pink slip and they may also have difficulty securing housing. To add insult to injury, religious liberty laws are popping up all over the country, in an effort to legally permit discrimination against LGBT members based upon a person's religious beliefs.

The panel through sharing their own experiences and through an interactive discussion relating to issues that members of the LGBT community deal with, will assist those attending to acquire an insight that will aid in the empathetic process when faced with such issues. In this workshop, Mark Baer, Leonard Levy and Dave Fleischer will each share their different approaches and methods for effectuating social change in matters pertaining to the LGBT community."